"If you write it, they will come." Well at least that's what all those small businesses that start a blog in the hope of driving hoards of potential customers to their site anticipate will happen.
While writing a regular blog is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your industry and help potential customers get the information they need about your company, the next hurdle is actually getting people to read it.
That's where social bookmarking sites like Reddit, Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon come in. Used properly, they have the power to bring eyeballs to your well-written prose.
One important distinction to make is that unlike social networking sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn -- where the content is secondary -- people participate within social bookmarking sites for the purpose of finding specific web content. So researching each site and knowing what types of content do the best for that audience will help increase your success.
Here then are just a few best practices for using social bookmarking to promote your small businesses blog:
Bookmark your best, but not every post
More than likely, your current blogging platform makes it easy to share your blog posts with social bookmarking sites to which you already belong. By loading the login information for each social bookmarking site onto your blogging software, you can quickly and easily share your selected posts. For example, after writing a particularly powerful blog post that you feel fits with the content needs of a site, you can tag it to your business Facebook page, to Digg, to StumbleUpon and to any other social bookmarking sites you choose.
Have social bookmarking icons available at the end of each post
To really maximize the effectiveness of social bookmarking, place icons such as ShareThis at the end of every blog post on your website. This makes it easy for visitors who belong to sites to share the posts they find useful as well. Here are a few of the most popular sites and where their share button codes can be found:
Pay attention to both the big players and the up and coming. Robert Farrington says that creating backlinks to your blog via social bookmarking is a key strategy for increasing traffic to your site. Farrington makes the point, however, that while the big players (Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit) tend to dominate, newer sites such as Y Combinator are worth a try. Best known as the venture capital muscle behind many of today's social media players, this site's readers are looking for hot new content that is targeted toward the Internet and finance. Similar to Reddit, users submit posts, which are then voted up or down.
Research your keywords. As with most things Internet marketing, keywords are critical. Lea Richards, owner of mail-order barbeque company Pigofthemonth, says that before submitting to social media sites, she takes some time to optimize the tags for whom she is targeting. "I do a quick Google search for my post and see what else is out there to get a better idea of what keywords I should be hitting on," says Richards.
Add images whenever possible. Posts that have video, photos or infographics are always more likely to go viral in today's visually oriented world.
How have you been using social bookmarking to drive traffic to your blog? We would love to hear your comments.
Karen Leland is a freelance journalist, best-selling author and president of Sterling Marketing Group where she helps businesses create killer content and negotiate the wired world of today's media landscape -- social and otherwise. For questions or comments, please contact her at email@example.com.